Long ago, I remember my mother grating fresh coconut to make the coconut milk that goes into rice and peas. She poured boiling water on the coconut in cheesecloth, and strained the milk, twisting and squeezing the grated coconut to give up the milk. Then she would gather all the ingredients in a big pot on the stove and cook it slowly, shifting the pot so the rice would cook evenly, and poking it with chopsticks to let the steam out. It was a daunting complex recipe. Fortunately, the rice cooker was invented and coconut milk now comes in cans and UHT boxes. Thanks to my sisters for this recipe because making rice and peas is easier than ever! And if company isn’t coming over to eat this much rice and peas, the leftovers freeze beautifully.
Jamaican Rice and Peas
1 cup kidney beans, soaked overnight in 3 cups water
1 carton coconut cream (250g)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
5 cups rice (rice cooker cups) Recommend Thai jasmine rice
3 stalks scallion, chopped in 2 inch lengths
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp black pepper
salt to taste
1/2 lb salt pork, cubed or bacon, chopped
1. Rinse soaked beans and discard soaking water. Pressure cook beans with 6 cups water and a little salt until tender, about 25-30 minutes. Save the cooking water for the rice.
2. If using salt pork, rinse salt off, and pressure cook it separately with 4 cups water, 25 minutes. Drain and discard water
3. Wash rice and place in non-stick rice cooker pot.
4. Add beans and beans cooking liquid. Add coconut cream, garlic (optional), scallion, thyme, salt and pepper to taste. After adding the cooking liquid and coconut cream, add additional water to come up to the 7 mark on the pot. Stir.
5. Add salt pork, if using
6. Press the cook button. When the button pops up, taste and adjust seasonings.
7. Serve with fricassee chicken, stew peas, or jerk pork/chicken
If salt pork is unavailable, brown ½ pound of coarsely chopped bacon and add it to the rice just before cooking.